Friday, October 27, 2023

REVIEW: 'Loki' - Loki and Sylvie Must Hope Their Allies Have the Expertise to Fix the Temporal Loom in 'Heart of the TVA'

Disney+'s Loki - Episode 2.04 "Heart of the TVA"

The TVA's Loom nears catastrophic failure but Loki, Mobius and Sylvie have a He Who Remains variant.

"Heart of the TVA" was written by Eric Martin & Katharyn Blair and directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Strength comes from the hope of people being able to fix what's broken. Weakness stems from blindly destroying everything and not caring about the consequences. Sylvie chose to believe Victor Timely was different than He Who Remains. He wasn't destined to make the same decisions. She acknowledged his potential and free will. Part of that came from her journey with Loki. Another part came from living on Earth. She saw the inherent humanity and goodness in others. She's removed from the timeline now. She's caught up in the latest threat the TVA faces. Action must be taken. The TVA doesn't have any time to waste. That requires her to trust that Timely, O.B. and Casey can create the solution. She can't sit still when so much is at stake. She can't indulge Mobius in pie. This is all real and personal to her. It should matter to the people playing god and making these decisions. She wants more for the timeline than what He Who Remains created. She wants to do better. She too must trust in the institution and the people who lead with their noble intentions.

Everyone believes Victor Timely is the only individual who can prevent the apocalypse. He nerds out over meeting his hero, O.B. The two actually inspired each other with the discoveries they've made about time travel and its technology. They created each other. No one has any time to investigate into that. They have lives to save. The TVA was given more time to prevent disaster because General Dox pruned branches from the timeline. New branches continue to grow. O.B. hopes to expand the temporal loom so it can handle the increased capacity. The science is all completely theoretical. It's seemingly based on the prototype Timely developed in the 19th century. He has the resources now to make his wildest dreams a reality. That's what makes it so tragic when it all fails. Timely opens the blast doors and is immediately disintegrated by the temporal radiation. Time ran out. He dies not knowing if his innovation could have saved the day. It remains just a theory. The destruction of the TVA occurs. Loki catches up to the glimpse of the future he previously experienced. This is the end. Nothing can change now.

Of course, the season still has two more episodes to go. The narrative can't reasonably expect the audience to believe everything is now gone. It's basically the same structure as the first season. So much emotional heft fueled the moment in which Loki and Mobius were pruned. That occurred with the assumption that meant death. That wasn't true. They were simply taken to the end of the timeline. That's precisely where they needed to be to solve the final puzzle of who controlled the TVA. Loki and Sylvie got the answers they needed because they were willing to risk it all. In this situation, they have no control over the outcome. They aren't promised anything better on the other side. They don't know what comes next. They simply must maintain the hope that something will happen that will allow more to occur. He Who Remains created the TVA. The system has failed. The TVA allowed the rules to be broken. Those in charge were willing to challenge the procedures that had governed them for so long. New opportunities have emerged. It's scary and daunting. They grapple with their humanity as they reckon with the truth of this work.

That means all the context isn't completely known. That's enraging to a certain extent. The show even channels that energy when Miss Minutes shares a glimpse of the past with Renslayer. The former judge commanded armies for He Who Remains. She led the troops into battle to emerge victorious in the multiversal wars. He took all the credit. He sat atop this system. He let her wallow in limited authority within the TVA. She wasn't recognized for all she accomplished. Now, she refuses to let anyone stand in her way of greatness. It's a shift in motivation prompted by Miss Minutes. The A.I. recognizes that she no longer needs He Who Remains. He was convenient to achieve her goals for awhile. That's not true anymore. She will more than likely discard Renslayer at some point as well. Right now though, the A.I. plays to her ego. It's all about the quest for power. Those are the stakes of this world to them. It's not about offering redemption or examining the complexity of the human condition. It's easier to conquer and control. That way the people in charge get to dictate every single outcome. B-15 leaves the decision up to Dox as to what happens to her and her allies. Meanwhile, Renslayer and Miss Minutes make that choice for them.

Everyone believes in the sacred timeline and the TVA's inherent goodness. However, they differ on the strategies that must be employed to keep everything operational. They have different styles of leadership they want to implement. B-15 and Dox disagree on methods. They each believe in the power of the institution. Everyone was distraught by the realization they are all variants. Their minds were wiped. They were conditioned to only recognize the power of the TVA. They have found reasons to stay. The environment is one of found family. The co-workers rely on each other to achieve their ultimate goals. They have to place their faith in one another to save the day. That's the value of this mission. It's impossible to accomplish anything on their own. They need people to trust. That's a difficult task for so many. It's not how they've been conditioned to live for so long. They have to be willing to let go. They must sacrifice their egos for the greater good. Loki still proudly declares himself and Sylvie as gods. That's how they were always imagined. They wield incredible powers. Being able to conduct magic in the TVA unlocks more opportunities. That's how they prevail against Renslayer and Miss Minutes. That should be enough. It isn't. The destruction still arrives. They all want more time to explain what's happening. When they take those moments to let the story and character development breathe, the show is immense and moving. When the focus remains firmly on the plot and its complications, that's when it starts losing that special spark.